Tullow hits a barren search for oil in Turkana

British Oil explorer Tullow has failed to strike oil in its latest drilling mission in Turkana area, a massive blow to Kenya’s commercial oil exploration hopes.

Tullow in January and May 2017 struck two fresh in the county raising prospects of increasing Kenya’s proven oil reserves. This emboldened the firm to widen its search for oil.

The exploration firm in January announced that it has struck 25 meters of oil at Erut-1 block. Four months later in May, it announced that it had struck crude oil in the same block but on two different zones, Emekuya-1 well of the Lokichar basin in Turkana County.

So far Kenya has discovered a projected 750 million barrels of oil reserves which experts say are commercially possible for production and export.

On Friday, however, the firm reported a different experience saying the latest drilling expedition in Araku-1 well had discovered no significant oil reservoirs but quality rocks and proven presence of gas condensate. The Araku-1 exploration had been drilled a total depth of 2.685 kilometers. This surpassed the prospects of the well’s exploration.

Mr. Angus McCross, Tullow exploration director said, “The Araku-1 exploration was an ambition wildcat project and was done at a considerably lower cost. Although we are disappointed that we did not strike commercially viable oil deposits, we are proud to announce that we discovered condensate gas and quality rocks. We are still fully committed to exploring in the Suriname and Guyana area.”

Kenya announced that it will start small-scale oil exportation in June, a position that it has further postponed to December 2017. The Energy Ministry said that it shelved the plans pending approval of the Petroleum Bill 2015 into law.

Mr. Charles Keter, the Energy Cabinet Secretary said that the Bill is stuck in the Senate pending President Kenyatta’s approval. However, the President had sought allowance to reduce the revenue sharing agreement with the surrounding local community from the initial 10 to 5 percent.

The Bill entitles counties with the black gold deposits to 20 percent of the government revenues.

Mr. Keter showed his optimism that after the presidential polls last week, the Senate will now sit next month and pave way for the export scheme scheduled for December 2017.

The country is hopeful to move about 2,000 to 4,000 barrels of oil on a daily basis by trucks from Turkana to Mombasa. It will be stored in the non-operational Kenya Petroleum Refinery storage tanks in the coastal city awaiting shipment.

By June 2017, the exploration company had already pumped out and stored 60,000 barrels of crude oil in Lokichar, Turkana in readiness for transportation by road to the Mombasa’s refinery.

Kenya’s oilfields are estimated to last for about 25 years.